News Local/State

Former U Of I Women’s Basketball Coach Matt Bollant Heads To Eastern Illinois University

Matt Bollant

In an undated photo, Matt Bollant addresses reporters during his time as University of Illinois head women's basketball coach. Jeff Bossert/WILL

Former University of Illinois women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant will take the same job at Eastern Illinois University.

The university in Charleston announced Friday that they were hiring Bollant to replace Debbie Black, who was let go last month after four seasons.

Bollant coached the U of I women’s team for five seasons, after coaching teams at Green Bay and Bryan College.  His tenure at Illinois started strong, but finished with just five wins over his final two seasons. A 2015 lawsuit filed by seven former players alleging a “racially hostile environment” did not help (an assistant coach resigned due to the controversy, and the university paid the players a $375,000 settlement).

Still, the EIU news release announcing Bollant’s hiring noted bright spots, including his team’s five wins over Top 25 teams, and his success in bringing up his players’ academic performances.

The news release also quotes Eastern’s Athletic Director Tom Michael, saying that Bollant stood out among the other head coach candidates.

“He sold the (search) committee on his vision for returning EIU women’s basketball back to the upper levels of the Ohio Valley Conference where it can contend for conference championships and post-season play.”

EIU’s women’s basketball team won 9 games and lost 19 in the 2016-17 season, its last under Black. The team’s record for that season in the Ohio Valley Conference was 5-11.

Eastern plans to formally introduce Bollant at a news conference on Monday afternoon at Lantz Arena.